Former Secret Service agent Paul Landis, who was present at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, has publicly questioned a key element of the official account of the event for the first time in 60 years.
Landis, now 88, was assigned to protect Jackie Kennedy. He recently spoke to the New York Times and cast doubt on the Warren Commission’s finding that a “magic bullet” hit and exited President Kennedy before striking Texas Governor John Connally Jr.
Landis described hearing multiple gunshots and seeing President Kennedy moving forward after being shot in the head. He also recalled picking up a near-perfect bullet from the back seat of the presidential limousine, which he later transported to the hospital. According to Landis, this bullet did not go too deeply into President Kennedy’s back before “popping back out”.
Landis believes that the bullet he found was mistaken for the “magic bullet” because it was discovered on a stretcher belonging to the former president. However, he insists that it was he who placed it there, fearing that someone else might take it as a keepsake. Landis noted discrepancies between his own experiences and the Warren Commission’s report, stating, “now I begin to wonder.”
Landis’s statements have raised questions about the credibility of the Warren Commission’s findings. Historian James Robenalt, who is helping Landis with his forthcoming memoir, commented that Landis’s account suggests the possibility of more than one gunman. Robenalt wrote in Vanity Fair that if the “magic bullet” hadn’t hit both President Kennedy and Mr. Connally, there may have been a separate shot.
However, some remain skeptical of Landis’s new claims. Former Secret Service colleague Clint Hill told the NY Times that Landis’s story now is “different than the statements he wrote in the days following the tragedy,” adding that there are “serious inconsistencies in [Mr. Landis’s] various statements/stories.”
Landis admitted to not speaking out sooner due to fear. He stated, “I was afraid. I started to think, did I do something wrong? There was a fear that I might have done something wrong and I shouldn’t talk about it.”